The Natural History Museum is the oldest museum in operation in the archipelago of Madeira. It is installed in the Palace of São Pedro, in Funchal, one of the most significant works of the Portuguese civil architecture of the mid-eighteenth century, built by the family Carvalhal.
The 1st Earl of Carvalhal was João José Xavier de Carvalhal Esmeraldo Vasconcelos de Atouguia Bettencourt Sá Machado (1778-1837). His heir and the 2nd Earl of Carvalhal was António Leandro Carvalhal (1831-1888).
At the Quinta das Cruzes Museum there is a painting of the Portuguese artist Tomás da Anunciação, dated 1865, which presents the 2nd Earl of Carvalhal and his family on a picnic on his property in Funchal.
The palace was purchased in 1929 by the city of Funchal, since it was no longer residence of the Counts of Carvalhal.
Since 1882, there existed the Carolina Sheffield Hotel and has also emerged the College of São Jorge, directed by Sister Mary Jane Wilson, founder of the Franciscan Congregation of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias in 1884.
In 1897, ran the International Club.
Initially was constituted as the Regional Museum, embraced, in addition to the Natural History, Ethnology and Archaeology, and today its exclusive scope of the Natural History. It was established in 1929, as proposed by the naturalist Adolfo César de Noronha, a student of Ichthyology, of Ornithology, Malacology and Carcinology in Madeira.
Later, in 1953, under the patronage of Charles L. Rolland, was added the Aquarium, located on ground floor of the Palace of São Pedro, with the scientific and technical guidance of Dr. Gunter Maul. Here there are represented the most important elements of coastal marine fauna of Madeira.
Since its inception, the Museum had the invaluable help of taxidermist and German scientist Dr. Gunter E. Maul, director of the Museum between 1943-1981, featuring a growing collection of displayed animals. There are currently exposed, 78 fish species, 247 birds, 14 land mammals and marine reptiles 3, 152 insects and other invertebrates, and a representative collection of rocks and minerals of the archipelago, as well as marine fossils Port Ghost. The study collections of the Museum currently reach more than 37,500 copies.
Since its origin, this museum, revealed a regional dimension, presenting only species caught in the archipelago. Ordering principle is the knowledge of flora, fauna and geology of Madeira.
It develops actions for collection of species of the natural heritage of Madeira and projects of scientific groups in zoos, botanical and geological studies to ensure a better understanding of the natural heritage of Madeira, as well as its dissemination. It also conducts environmental education activities.
The Museum publishes, not periodically, a magazine called Bocagiana, with registration of new species to science of different Atlantic archipelagos. The exchange with other organizations allowed the formation of an important specialized library.
This museum is part of the Department of Science of Funchal City Hall and the Marine Biology Station, next to the Coal Quay in Funchal.
DRAC Madeira - Direcção Regional dos Assuntos Culturais (Madeira)